On Saturday the 1st of August 2015 we lost the British icon Cilla Black at the of age 72. She was loved by many and made her name through singing, acting and presenting. She was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Liverpool on the 27th of May 1947 and later created the stage name Cilla Black. She was raised in a Roman Catholic household by her mother Priscilla Blythen and John Patrick White.
From a young age Black was determined to become a performer so when she finished college she became a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool’s Cavern Club which had strong connections with the Beatles. Black was lucky enough to perform on a couple of occasions at the Cavern Club and these performances caught the eye of the Beatles who were very impressed. This was just the start of their relationship – later on in Black’s career she became one of the only artists to record more than one collaboration with Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
John Lennon helped Cilla get her first recording contract, he persuaded Brian Epstein to audition her and with the help of the Beatles she sung the classic song ‘Summertime’ to try and impress him. However, this did not go as smoothly as she would have hoped. This was due to nerves and the Beatles playing this song in the wrong key. In her autobiography ‘What’s It All About’ she explained:
I’d chosen to do “Summertime”, but at the very last moment I wished I hadn’t. I adored this song, and had sung it when I came to Birkenhead with the Big Three, but I hadn’t rehearsed it with the Beatles and it had just occurred to me that they would play it in the wrong key. It was too late for second thoughts though. With one last wicked wink at me, John set the group off playing. I’d been right to worry. The music was not in my key and any adjustments that the boys were now trying to make were too late to save me. My voice sounded awful. Destroyed—and wanting to die—I struggled on to the end.
Luckily, Epstein saw Black perform again and decided to take her on as his only female client in September 1963. Cilla went on to have a very successful singing career and had hits including ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ and ‘You’re My World’. Black also had a very strong television career – in 1968 she released her self-titled series ‘Cilla’ and she was also very well known for presenting ‘Surprise Surprise’ from 1984-2001 and ‘Blind Date’ from 1985-2003.
Black was married to her manager Bobby Willis for more than 30 years until he died of lung cancer in 1999. Together they had three sons Robert (who became her manager), Ben and Jack. They also had a daughter called Ellen but she died after just two hours from lung complications.
Black died on the 1st of August 2015 at her holiday home in Spain. Many people have paid tribute to Cilla Black including Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, Paul O’Grady and Jimmy Tarbuck.
For more information on Cilla Black visit http://www.cillablack.com/
Blog by Kathleen Shuster
Kathleen Shuster is the Social Media Manager for Education Quizzes.